It has been a banner year for music and Press Wolf PR has had the honor of working with some truly remarkable, respected, inventive and exciting musicians. As we’re all putting together our Best Of lists for 2011, here’s a look back at some highlights of 2011.
The Meat Puppets’ 13th album Lollipop continues the long-running psychedelic band’s hot streak since returning from a hiatus…”Damn Thing,” one of the new record’s highlights, is a fine showcase for the trio’s signature blend of crunchy guitars and laid back vocal harmonies.
Cronin stretches his legs to record a clean, ridiculously catchy song with tons of layers. It’s the full scale of things that makes ‘Apathy’ so great– the harmonies, the song structuring, the piles of instruments, but mostly, the anxious feeling that’s strung throughout the song. It’s a song with a lot to grab onto, and it’s a killer introduction to Cronin as a solo artist.
Pitchfork – 8.1
While it’s nice to see Billy Corgan again get his act together, write some proper tunes and not berate his fans, the fact is this local act is out-smashing Smashing Pumpkins. Apteka’s storming new Gargoyle Days, the release of which it celebrates here, makes the new Jane’s Addiction sound hugely unnecessary, too.
Flemish sleaze from the heart. Brussels may not be a city noted for its contribution to the world of high energy, no frills raunch’n’roll, but that is about to change. This is un-ironic, un-pretentious, un-self-conscious party music for people in great leather jackets who are more worried about when they’re next getting laid than they are about global warming. And if this demographic does not include you, then…well, you’re an idiot.
The singer/songwriter has continued to tour the country, continued to be name-dropped by (and seen alongside) one of cable TV’s biggest musical heartthrobs, and, most impressively, (in the span of five days) convinced her fans to shell out more than my annual salary to fund her next
Yearling showcases the band firing on all cylinders; memorable songwriting, sweet harmonies, superb playing and worthy lyrics that may be sentimental, but never callow or cloying. They’ve hit a trifecta of ‘best release yet’, ‘breakout album-worthy’ and a ‘best album of the year’. This album may be a ‘classic’, something you’ll still be playing many years down the road.
Blurt – 9/10
While it might push some buttons as sort of kitsch pop, it’s definitely pushing the envelope in regards to the music we can create with electronics pushing us into the future. If you’re looking for something that challenges your opinion of traditional pop, look no further, Netherfriends is here.
Austin Town Hall
Everything the White Stripes once pretended to be, White Mystery actually is. Midwestern sis-bro duo Alex and Francis Scott Key White play ferocious, tuneful garage rock, proving that hiring a bass player is as unnecessary as looking outside of one’s bloodline for band mates. The main difference between these Whites and Jack and Meg: The girl is up front. Alex is the group’s shredding, soul-barker star, while Francis holds it down on drums, very nearly claiming the spotlight for himself.
Brooklyn’s Teen Girl Scientist Monthly is making music that I adore. Fun, fast, post punk or what some are calling pop stomp…This is music that is not to be listened to while chained to a desk or feeling depressed. It is music for the infectious joy that comes along with feeling young, optimistic and knowing the weekend is just a few hours away as you plan to storm it and have the time of your life. Teen Girl Scientist Monthly is just rad!
They channel late-’60s psych-pop perfectly, deliciously bending vocal melodies that begin sweetly, turn awkwardly downward and suddenly rest on a note that should cause discomfort but doesn’t because it just … fits.
“Dial 666” by Night Beats could go on for another ten minutes as far as we’re concerned, but it’s less than two-minute running time makes it all the more appealing for playing hard to get. It’s kind of astonishing that the song is off of their self-titled LP and not, you know, the summer of 1967, with the kind of murky, overblown production so prevalent on the Nuggets boxset. That’s not to say the song is a genre experiment, or even a loving tribute to the golden age of AM radio, just further proof that sometimes all you need is three chords, guitar, bass, drums—and maybe an Ibanez Tubescreamer—to make a killer pop song.
The Wax Museums write fast, sloppy punk songs about any damned thing, chronicling summer’s highs and lows with Ramones-esque bravado. Their lyrics sound like someone’s smart-mouthed teenage brother cracking wise between huffs of paint. Their music, too, is the essence of garage punk simplicity, two- and three-chord rave-ups stripped of ornamentation and pushed to maximum velocity. Still there’s a bit of a sideways grin tucked in here, as if the members of the Wax Museums are not anywhere near as stupid as they’re pretending to be.
San Francisco’s The Wrong Words, who have more of a crunchy, late-’70s powerpop vibe to them. (And maybe just a little Thin Lizzy in there too.) Their self-titled debut is a boppin’ good time.
Fall on Your Sword’s music…exists in an alternate world where proggy keyboard wizards got to keep scoring weird films after the early ’80s ended…close your eyes really tight and try to imagine how wild it would be if you woke up one day, did some science stuff and figured out that there was another habitable planet exactly like this one just chilling out there in vast space. You’d probably make music like this too.
This short song is caked in reverb, but T.J. Cowgill’s incredible voice still holds its shape. It’s appropriate, given his affinity for occult imagery that he was gifted with a truly supernatural singing voice…you’re in for some heavy acoustic strumming and nonstop eerie ambiance…Love will definitely be the soundtrack to all my effigy-burning parties.
Tiny Mix Tapes
The Los Angeles-based trio manage to evoke Bauhaus’ aesthetic of pure, primal, dissonant terror like no other act has managed since.
This record, part of VDSQ’s series of solo acoustic recordings, is Thurston Moore’s tribute to Jack Rose: solo acoustic guitar–no poetry or electric squeal of stomped Rat pedals, just open tuned jams riding the out-of-tune waves that would sound exactly like Sonic Youth if they were played on a beat up Jazzmaster.
This is quite the beautiful effort, and even bucks the acoustic frame in spots, care of the instrument’s wildly buzzing, vibrant construction when fed through distortion pedals. Gets better as it rolls along, with the last two tracks really showing a wonderful progression of structured folk. Discovery has its pawprints all over this work, and the end result is a bit of a revelation. Beautiful record.
This set features completely raw, one-take acoustic guitar compositions. Honestly, just some of the most beautiful, transcendent music I’ve come across recently and without a doubt one of my early shoe-in contenders for album of the year. Check out the sample up on Mimaroglu and grab this immediately. Totally and completely essential.